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‘SquareButt’ Burger King Hip-Hop Ad Under Fire

Fast food giant Burger King and Seattle, Washington rapper Sir-Mix-A-lot have come under fire for a Hip-Hop commercial featuring Nickelodeon character SpongeBob.

 

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is taking Burger King and Nickelodeon Television President Cyma Zarghami to task over the “SpongeBob SquareButt” commercial.

 

The spot features Sir-Mix-A-Lot reinterpreting his hit 1990 song “Baby Got Back” with new lyrics that start “I like Square Butts and I cannot Lie.”

 

The lyrics spoof the original song and feature Mix-A-Lot flanked by two scantily clad women on each arm.

 

Additionally, Burger King’s mascot, The King, is seen dancing along with women gyrating, cut with images of SpongeBob dancing.

At the end of the :30 second spot, Sir-Mix-A-Lot himself quips “booty is booty!”

More than 2,600 CCFC members have written to Nickelodeon and Burger King in the past 48 hours, complaining about the commercial, which promotes Burger King’s Kids Meals.

 

“Parents deserve to know whether Nickelodeon—the most popular children’s television network—signed off on the use of SpongeBob in a commercial that celebrates lechery and objectifies women,” CCFC director Dr. Susan Linn told AllHipHop.com in an emailed statement.

 

The advertisement ran during Monday Night’s Men’s NCAA Championship and has aired on several other stations since.

 

Burger King has stated that the ad was aimed at adults when it originally debuted on the West Coast at 6:00 PM during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

 

In their letter, CCFC acknowledged that Burger King was after publicity, but questioned the decisions of Nickelodeon’s top brass.

 

“We wonder why a children’s television station like Nickelodeon would want to link one of its most popular and profitable characters to this sort of lechery and objectification of women,” the CCFC letter reads. “That’s why we are asking if you approved the use of SpongeBob in this commercial (and the longer Internet viral video, which is frankly even more disturbing).”

 

The full letter is below:

 

Ms. Cyma Zarghami, President Nickelodeon Television 1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036 SENT VIA FAX Dear Ms. Zarghami, We are writing to ask whether you or anyone at Nickelodeon approved the new “SpongeBob SquareButt” television commercial that is currently airing for Burger King Kids Meals. As you are probably aware, more than 2,600 members of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have asked Nickelodeon and Burger King to pull the commercial. It’s bad enough when a character popular with children, like SpongeBob SquarePants, is used to promote junk food, but it’s absolutely egregious when that character simultaneously promotes objectified, sexualized images of women. Yesterday, Burger King responded via a marketing trade publication to complaints about the ad. While their response was disingenuous – they claimed the ad for Kids Meals featuring SpongeBob was aimed at adults – at least they responded. We suspect Burger King, which positions itself as an edgier alternative to other fast food chains, actually welcomes the publicity from this controversy. But we wonder why a children’s television station like Nickelodeon would want to link one of its most popular and profitable characters to this sort of lechery and objectification of women. That’s why we are asking if you approved the use of SpongeBob in this commercial (and the longer Internet viral video, which is frankly even more disturbing). If you did – and do – approve, is this part of a new trend at Nickelodeon? Is there a plan at Nickelodeon to make your most famous characters edgier in order to maintain their appeal to children as they grow up? We can’t help but notice the connection between this ad and the new tween Dora doll, which will distinguish itself from earlier incarnations of Dora by focusing on fashion and her appearance. We think parents of children who watch your programming would appreciate hearing answers to these questions. We are attaching an email from the mother of two young children who were watching the NCAA championship when the ad was aired. We look forward to your response, and would be happy to discuss our members concerns with you. Sincerely, Susan Linn Director, CCFC

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